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Features of semantic and communicative translation (Newmark, 1991: 11-13)

Semantic Translation Communicative Translation

1. Author-centered Reader-centered

2. Pursues author’s thought Pursues author’s intention.

Related to speech.
Related to though.

3. Concerned with author Adapts and makes the thought

as individual and cultural content of original
more accessible to reader.

4. Semantic-and syntactic- Effect-oriented. Formal features

oriented. or original sacrificed more
Length of sentences, positions
and integrity of clauses, word
position, etc., preserved
whenever possible.

5. Faithful, more literal. Faithful, freer.

6. Informative Effective.

7. Usually more awkward, Easy reading, more natural,

more detailed, more complex, smoother, simpler, clearer, more
but briefer. direct, more conventional,
conforming to particular register
of language, but longer.

8. Personal Social

9. Source language biased Target language biased

10. Over-translated: more Under-translated: us of ‘hold-all’

concentrated and more terms.
specific than original

11. More powerful Less powerful

12. Always inferior to the May be better than original

original because of loss of because of gain in force and
meaning. clarity, despite loss in semantic

13. Out of time and local Ephemeral and rooted in its

place ‘eternal’. context, ‘existential’.

14. Wide and universal ‘Tailor-made’ or targeted for one

category of readership; does one
job, fulfils one particular function.

15. Inaccuracy is always A certain embroidering, a stylistic

wrong synonymy, a discreet modulation
is condoned, provided the facts
are straight and the reader is
suitably impressed.

16. The translator has no right The translator has the right to
to improve or to correct. correct and improve the logic and
style of the original, clarify
ambiguities, jargons, normalize
bizarre personal usage.

17. Mistakes in the original The translator can correct

should (and must) be pointed mistakes of fact in original.
out only in footnote.

18. Target: a ‘true’ version, Target: a ‘happy’ version, i.e. a

i.e. an exact statement. successful act.
19. Unit of translating: tends Unit of translating: tends to
to words, collocations and sentences and paragraph.

20. Applicable to all writings Applicable to impersonal texts.

with original expressiveness.

21. Basically the works of Basically the work of translating

translating is an art. is a craft.

22. Usually the work of one Sometimes the product of a

translator. translation team.

23. Conforms to the ‘relativist’ Conforms to the ‘universalist’

position of cultural relativity. position, assuming that exact
translation may be possible.

24. Meaning Message

Communicative and semantic translation may well coincide in particular, where the text conveys a
general rather them a culturally bound message and where the matter is as important as the manner.
Not ably than in the translation of the most important religious, philosophical, artistic and scientific text
assuming second reader as informed and interested as the first. Only communicative and semantic
translation fulfill the two main aims of translation, which, the first accuracy, and second in general. A
semantic translation is written at the author’s linguistic level, a communicative at the readership
semantic translation is used for expressive text, communicative for in formative and vocative text.

Semantic and communicative translation treat the following items similarly: stock and dead metaphors,
normal collocations, technical terms, slang, colloquialisms, standard notices, phaticisms, ordinary
language. The expressive components of ‘expressive’ texts (usual syntactic structures, collocations,
metaphors, words peculiarly used, neologisms) are rendered closely, if not literally, but where they
appear in informative and vocative text, they are normalized or toned down (except in striking advent,
tenements). Cultural components tend to be transferred intact in expressive texts transferred and
explained with culturally neutral terms in informative texts; replaced by cultural equivalents in vocative
texts. Badly and/or inaccurately written passages must remain so in translation if they are ‘expressive’,
although the translator should comment on any mistakes of factual or moral truth, if appropriate. Badly
and/or inaccurately written passages should be ‘corrected’ in communicative translation.
So much for the detail, but semantic and communicative translation must also be seen as wholes.
Semantic translation is personal and individual, follows the thought processes of the author, tends to
over-translate, pursues nuances of meaning, yet aims at concision in order to reproduce pragmatic
impact. Communicative translation is social, concentrates on the message and the main force of the
text, tends to under-translate, to be sample, clear and brief, and is always written in a natural and
resourceful stole. A semantic translation is normally inferior to its original, as there is both cognitive a
communicative translation is often better than its original. At a pinch, a semantic translation to explain.

However, in the communicative translation of vocative texts, equivalent effect is not only desirable, it is
essential; it is the criterion by which the effectiveness, and therefore the value, of the translation of
notices, instructions, publicity, propaganda, persuasive or eristic writing, and perhaps popular fiction, is
to join the Party, to assemble the device-could even be quantified as a percentage rate of the success of
the translation.

In information texts, equivalent effect is desirable only in respect of their (in theory) insignificant
emotional impact; it is not possible if SL and TL culture are remote from each other since normally the
cultural items have to be explained by culturally natural or generic terms, the topic content simplified,
SL difficulties clarified. Hopefully, the TL reader reads the text with the same degree of interest as the SL
reader, although the impact is different. However, the vocative (persuasive) thread in most informative
texts has to be rendered with an eye to the readership, i.e., with an equivalent effect purpose.

In semantic translation, the first problem is that for serious imaginative literature, there are individual
readers rather than a readership. Secondly, whilst the reader is not entirely neglected, the translator is
essentially trying to render the effect the SL text on himself (to feel with, to empathize with the author),
not on any putative readership. Certainly, the more ‘universal’ the text (consider ‘To be or not to be’),
the more a broad equivalent effect is possible, since the ideals of the original go beyond any cultural
frontiers. The metalingual sound-effects which the translator is trying to reproduce are in fact unlikely to
affect the TL reader, with his different system, similarly, but here may be compensation. In any event,
the reaction.[10]

All translation a craft requiring a trained skill, continually renewed linguistic and non-linguistic
knowledge and a deal of flair and imagination, as well as intelligence and above all common sense.
There is no one communicative nor one semantic method of translating a text. There are in fact widely
overlapping bond of method.